Ireland’s finance minister has said he believes the Government can get the public “back to work” ahead of a crucial Cabinet meeting where it is expected the first phase of lifting restrictions will be rubber-stamped.
There have been positive signs this week that the Government will sign off on the first phase of its plan to reopen some businesses.
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said it is “crucial” to see what will happen as the country eases itself in to phase one of lifting restrictions and what will happen to employment levels.
Mr Donohoe told RTE Morning Ireland that some people who lost their jobs and are claiming the pandemic unemployment payment may be able to move on to the wage subsidy scheme.
How long the payments are going to be sustained for, and their level of payment, we will have to make a decision on that in the coming weeksPaschal Donohoe
“These are schemes that cost many hundreds of millions of euros per week and we just want to try and get the balance right,” he said.
He added, however, that the Government has not made a decision on extending Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payments beyond June 8.
“When we make that decision, (we will) communicate quickly to all who are depending on us,” Mr Donohoe added.
“As soon as we understand a little bit more how our economy will respond to the reopening that we hope we’re going to be in a position to do, that will allow us to better understand the economic consequences of decisions that we make in relation to those payments.
“But again, as I talk about the financial and economic issues, that is centred in appreciation of the value of these payments and the effect that they’re having on families and those who are dependent upon them at the moment.
“We’ve indicated on a number of occasions that these payments do definitely have a future.
“But the nature of that future, how long the payments are going to be sustained for, and their level of payment, we will have to make a decision on that in the coming weeks.
“We want to see the effect of that reopening first and then we’ll quickly make a decision after that.”
If the Government signs off on phase one, it will see the reopening of a number of businesses, including garden centres, homeware shops, electrical stores and opticians.
Construction workers would also be able to return to work if they can follow social distancing rules.
On Thursday, 426 cases of Covid-19 were reported by the Department of Health.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the spike in the number was due to an unnamed hospital failing to notify health authorities of almost 300 cases of coronavirus within legal time frames.
The overall number of confirmed cases rose to 23,827 after the 426 were added.
A further 10 Covid-19 related deaths were also announced on Thursday, taking Ireland’s death toll to 1,506.